Lab Assistant Responsibilities

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Laboratory assistants work in many different fields and laboratory settings, including cosmetic laboratories, medical laboratories, forensic and chemistry laboratories. A lab assistant lends support to others working in a laboratory environment, including chemists, doctors and forensic specialists. Most lab assistants have completed a two-year program in laboratory or medical assistance. In some instances, a lab assistant may have a bachelor's degree in a specific field. According to PayScale.com, as of May 2010, laboratory assistants earn between $25,550 and $34,673 per year.

Specimen Preparation and Analysis

  • Many people rely on the answers they will receive from laboratory tests to help them complete their jobs. Specimens arrive at the laboratory with an identification label and test orders. When the laboratory assistant takes a sample of the specimen, she must properly label the sample and the test results so there are no mix-ups with other specimens. The laboratory assistant uses test tubes, microscopes and a variety of laboratory equipment to analyze the specimen sample. As she conducts the analysis, the laboratory assistant follows orders from those who brought the specimen. These lab orders tell the assistant which tests to run on the specimen. Tests conducted on bodily fluid samples must have careful handling in the event they contain hazardous material that may harm others.

Laboratory Equipment Maintenance

  • Specimens tested in a laboratory setting often contain bacteria, bodily fluids or contaminants. The laboratory assistant is in charge of making sure lab equipment is clean and sterile and ready for use. He also checks equipment and tools daily to ensure they work properly. If a piece of lab equipment isn't working, the lab assistant completes a work order to have it repaired or let his supervisor know that a tool is in need of replacement. If on-site equipment repair is available, the laboratory assistant will take the equipment to that department and pick it up when it's ready.

Data Entry and Record Keeping

  • Labs must keep records on each specimen and test conducted in the laboratory. The laboratory assistant is responsible for entering data into the computer each time a specimen arrives in the laboratory. He will enter specimen identification, what type of specimen it is and tests he will conduct. Attention to detail and accuracy are very important as the lab assistant enters the information. Mistakes made in data entry can result in specimen mix-ups or other workers getting the wrong test results. Inaccurate results due to poor record keeping and data entry can cause an incorrect diagnosis or the arrest of an innocent person.

References

  • Photo Credit laboratory equipment image by Canakris from Fotolia.com
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